Get rid of rodents - firefighter

People are being urged to put bait and traps in their ceilings if rodent infestations are suspected, after a historic home near Queenstown was destroyed by fire on Sunday.

North Otago fire safety management officer Stu Ide was yesterday investigating the fire's cause.

It is thought to have started in the ceiling of the Lower Shotover Rd home.

Home owner Phil George, of Sydney, has said he suspected the fire might have been started by a mouse chewing through an electrical wire in the ceiling.

When asked about this, Mr Ide said that was being looked into and fires caused by rodents were not uncommon.

He said he had investigated two other fires in the southern area caused by mice, one in Arrowtown and another in Gore.

''If you know that you have got rodents in your ceiling, set the traps, set the bait ... because they can cause damage.''

Evidence of melted copper wires indicated the fire was particularly hot. An average house fire burns at 900degC, Mr Ide said, while copper melts at 1083degC.

Whether a rodent was involved or not, the fire is suspected to have been caused by some kind of electrical fault.

Electrical cabling from the specific area of ceiling where the fire started has been sent away for specialist analysis.

Mr Ide credited smoke alarms with saving lives. Of the four people in the house, two men required treatment at Lakes District Hospital for smoke inhalation.